Assignment: Education - New Student Information System

Wisconsin chooses statewide student information system

Published On: Feb 19 2013 04:55:05 PM CST   Updated On: Feb 19 2013 06:57:13 PM CST
LA CROSSE, Wis. -

Everything your child does in school is kept in a student information system. The SIS used in the La Crosse School District is provided by a Wisconsin-based company called Skyward.

"So, inside Skyward, the core, is our student demographics, attendance, scheduling," said Vicki Lyons, director of technology services for the school district of La Crosse.

The district also uses the system as a communication tool.

"We use it mostly to communicate with our parents and our community members as well," said Lyons.

The district started using Skyward ten years ago. Everyone from the teachers to the secretaries to the food services staff are continually being trained on the data base.

"We are happy with the system," said Sonja Hoskins, data services manager for the La Crosse School District. "And Skyward is wonderful with the fact that they are always updating and finding ways to make improvements to the system."

Skyward currently serves 50-percent of the school districts throughout the state, but that didn't factor into the process. The Department of Administration awarded the statewide SIS to Minnesota-based company Infinite Campus.

"There was a bidding process," said Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. "It was conducted fairly."

Governor Walker says the seven vendors interested in being the state's SIS, including Skyward, went through a fair bidding process.

:My administration, specifically the department of administration, is responsible for making sure the law is followed," said Governor Walker.

But Skyward is protesting the results. In a news release, the company says the DOA "failed to provide a fair, transparent, and open process."

"The DOA even brought in a third party outside observer and monitor who worked previously for Governor Doyle," said Governor Walker. "So, it's someone who's obviously not affiliated with my administration to oversee that. And they felt the contract process was done accurately."

A spokesperson for the DOA says Skyward's protest will be objectively reviewed. But at this point, 50 percent of the state's school districts may have to abandon their current SISs and switch to the new statewide system. Lyons says while the idea is good... it will come with a cost.

"It looks like our initial implementation and our initial training will be over 260-thousand dollars," said Lyons. "So, what we would need to do here is we would need to find the dollars to provide that from within our programs."

So, as the La Crosse School district prepares to switch to a new SIS vendor over the next five years, parents will also have to prepare to learn a new system to access their child's information.